Thursday 15th November 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Taking God Seriously In Life And In The Sacred Liturgy

July 19, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


The concept of a sense of the sacred both within the liturgy and outside it embraces several closely interrelated dispositions — reverence and solemnity are two of which we have already spoken in previous essays.
A third that warrants our attention is the disposition of “seriousness,” the perception of that which is so important that it must be treated with circumspection, sobriety, attentiveness, discretion, care, and reserve — a matter that cannot and should not be trivialized, banalized, or profaned. Seriousness is a face-to-face confrontation with reality, in particular the realities that touch upon our eternal destiny.
We inhabit a culture that scarcely knows how to be serious anymore. In her 2016 paper “Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” the philosophy scholar Dr. Margaret Hughes cites as a symptom of this mentality the fact that a pop song proclaiming both life and death to be nothing more than one big joke was the most widely selected musical piece for funerals in England (“Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” in Life and Learning XXVI: Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth University Faculty for Life Conference at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2016, ed. Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ, Bronx, NY, University Faculty for Life, 2016, p. 181).
Young people are being intoxicated with music and other forms of entertainment that deny reality, that imprison them in the delusions of false and spiritually lethal pleasures, accompanied by a barrage of tasteless humor crafted to keep them from seeing anything above and beyond these transitory chimeras.
It is because of this that when faced with tragedies — a grave illness or death of a loved one or even the prospect of their own — they are totally unprepared.
The Roman soldiers’ way of dealing with Christ, of steeling themselves against Him and His teachings, was by mocking Him, by making a joke of Him. It was thus that they resisted the seriousness of Christ. For the seriousness of Christ makes those who do not want to change their lives very uncomfortable.
There is a correlation between seriousness and truth. For absolute truths require a serious response of assent. But in a culture such as ours deformed by rampant relativism, with absolute truths declared to be unknowable or uncertain, almost nothing is taken seriously. All too many modern Scripture scholars of the “higher criticism” variety have fostered a biblical relativism that has undercut the certainty of the Word of God, creating the impression that the Sacred Scriptures are little more than a “nice” collection of edifying fables and sayings.
It is our duty and our calling to take God seriously, to take His words and His Commandments seriously, to take His Church seriously. To do so, we must bear in mind who God is, who we are, and where we are going. Each human life is an epic drama, a battle for a man or woman’s soul fought against the backdrop of salvation history.
Our postmodern world would have us believe, as the villainous Shakespeare character Macbeth did, that life is nothing more than “a tale/Told by an idiot…. / Signifying nothing” (Macbeth, act 5, scene 5).
But life does have a definite and serious purpose imparted by God. In his philosophical classic Christian Ethics, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) observes, “A new seriousness, a new realistic character, a breath of eternity pervades the moral order in which the great drama of human existence displays itself coram Deo, in the confrontation with God” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, New York, David McKay Co., 1953, p. 460).
While the evangelists record our Lord in a quite wide variety of social settings, from meals and personal conversations to huge outdoor events, settings that are quite human, and not without moments of both tenderness and gentle humor, in all these circumstances we never see Christ engaged in wild frivolity.
In all His words and actions there is always an undercurrent of seriousness, of deep and profound purpose, of keeping the eyes fixed upon concerns that are spiritually a matter of life and death. This seriousness is likewise to be seen in the examples of the saints:
“To be sure, the saints always avoid behaving in a loose or free or easy way. On every occasion their bearing reveals them to be a ‘property’ of Christ,’ shaped and contained by His holy law. . . . ‘Sacral’ reserve . . . means setting ourselves at a distance from the world” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude of Mind, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1948, pp. 227-228).
God has bestowed upon man the capacity to transcend himself and ascend to “a consciously experienced ‘dialogue with’ God” (Von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, p. 221). This dialogue finds its supreme expression in the sacred liturgy. The liturgy is inherently serious, for it directs our inward gaze “toward the great things that are eternally and invariably important” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality, Manchester, NH, Sophia Institute Press, 1986, p. 99).
What is serious inhabits a higher plateau. To turn to what is serious, we must put aside and turn away from what is trivial, from whatever distracts us from the attention that seriousness demands. What is serious often requires time and effort for thought and reflection. Often it requires preparation, and demands silence, an inward silence and frequently an outward silence as well.
All these dispositions are necessary for a fully fruitful celebration of the sacred liturgy, and a fully fruitful participation in it.
When a priest is going to celebrate Mass, the Church has him put on sacred vestments, communicating to him the message that he is stepping out of what is ordinary into a sacred realm, and that he will be entering the Holy of Holies. He is entering upon what is most serious in life, and his thoughts and actions during the Mass must be cast in this light. The laity too, as participants in the liturgy, also need to make a comparable transition to the sacred in their thoughts and actions when they attend Mass.
The era of the 1960s was marked by a deep and aggressive hostility to the supernatural. Some within the Church allowed themselves to be intimidated by this secularistic culture to the point of believing that the Church should make her peace with it by bringing some of the manifestations of pop culture into the sanctuary.
Since the 1960s there have been recurrent efforts to produce supposedly “youth-oriented” liturgies, rationalized as an attempt to meet young people on their own terms. In many parishes, a casual, “recreational” approach to the liturgy set in, an approach that purposefully excluded seriousness, with traditional crucifixes, Gregorian chant, dark-colored vestments and incense rejected as too gloomy, too serious for the new “happy” style of Catholic worship.
Yet the pop culture approach to the liturgy is inherently flawed in three ways.
First, there is so much in contemporary pop culture that is diametrically opposed to the faith — the glorification of lust, vulgarity, pride, and selfishness — that invoking its spirit in the liturgy threatens an authentic communication of the Gospel.
Secondly, imitating the pop culture in the liturgy blurs the distinction between sacred worship and recreation. It thus feeds into the modern mentality (so aptly first identified by Dietrich von Hildebrand) that work is the only serious pursuit in life and that everything else is a matter of recreation and relaxation (Von Hildebrand, “Efficiency and Holiness,” in The New Tower of Babel: Essays, Burns and Oates, London, 1954, pp. 220-221).
This, I believe, explains at least in part the phenomenon of people coming to church on Sundays in sports clothes or beach clothes. And indeed, the pop culture approach to the sacred liturgy almost explicitly invites people to “come as they are,” in the casual clothes they would wear to a rock concert.
As Von Hildebrand observes, “Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that ‘we go unto the altar of God’ as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering” (Von Hildebrand, “The Case for the Latin Mass,” Triumph, volume 1, n. 2, October 1966, Internet version accessed from the Internet Archive —
Addressing this same issue, Pope Benedict XVI observed, “The Sunday liturgy . . . will come off badly if it wants to enter the competition of show business,” for “A pastor is not an emcee, and the liturgy is not a variety show” (“Weekend Culture and the Christian Sunday,” in Joseph Ratzinger: Theology of the Liturgy: The Sacramental Foundation of Christian Existence, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2014, p. 206).
Thirdly, the assumption that the pop culture style of worship is necessary because the only way to reach young people is to “meet them where they are” virtually denies man’s capability to transcend himself, to rise above himself, in his encounter with God. Moreover, a craven conformity to pop culture will never satisfy the highest aspirations of the human heart.
Our Lord’s parable of the king who invites his people to his son’s wedding feast (Matt. 22:2-14) is very instructive in this regard. The parable unfolds as a two-part narrative, beginning with a number of those invited making light of it and choosing not to come for a variety of trivial reasons (Matt. 22:5).
In the second part of the parable the king discovers among those who have come to the wedding feast a man improperly dressed for this solemn occasion (Matt. 22:11-14).
In both cases the king responds with great wrath, for in both cases he encounters individuals who have not taken him and his son’s wedding seriously. Those who disregard the king’s invitation treat the wedding as less important than their own trivial pursuits and the man who does come treats it as unimportant by dressing casually, recreationally. They are all guilty of the same attitude of not taking the king’s invitation seriously.

St. Francis Of Assisi

A serious disposition requires us to give God fitting worship, and to recognize the deeper meaning of the everyday events in our lives, to perceive the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) of what God is saying to us through these events.
Who can calculate just how deeply human history has been changed for the better by the decision of a young man of Assisi named Francis to turn away from his superficial world of frivolous pursuits to perceive and respond to the seriousness of Christ?

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Having watched the first session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops General Meeting, and that fact that the Pope has ordered them not vote on any action items, I have to ask, what is the point of this meeting? What is the point of National Bishops' Conferences?

Load More...

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…Continue Reading

Twitter locks LifeSite out of account for ‘hate’: fact-based post on rise in gay STDs

October 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has just locked LifeSiteNews out of our Twitter account over an article we posted four years ago that provided expert analysis on the rise in sexually-transmitted diseases among homosexuals. The 2014 piece by Dr. Gerard M.…Continue Reading

Ave Maria U president who criticized Cdl. Burke, Archbishop Viganò announces resignation

AVE MARIA, Florida, October 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Just six weeks after he issued a statement criticizing Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Vigano, Ave Maria University (AMU) announced its president Jim Towey will step down in June 2020. Vigano’s 11-page testimony…Continue Reading

‘Just glad we ruined Kavanaugh’s life’: Pro-abortion Left responds to Supreme Court defeat

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the left-wing forces who pulled out all the stops to defeat him show no signs of cooling down anytime soon. The Senate voted 50-48 on…Continue Reading

Pope selects youth from pro-gay Vatican consultant’s media org to attend Synod

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The four young people from Canada now at the Vatican synod on youth are all from Salt and Light Media. The Toronto-based media outlet is run by Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is also on…Continue Reading

Youth Synod Archbishop apologizes to young Catholics for sex abuse, ‘unbeautiful liturgies’

ROME, October 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, has issued an extensive mea culpa at the Vatican Youth Synod for all the ways in which the hierarchy and members of the Church have failed young people — whether…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Abp. Viganò urges U.S. bishops to confront sex abuse as ‘courageous shepherds’

ROME, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has issued a brief note to the U.S. Bishops, urging them to confront sex abuse as “courageous shepherds” rather than “frightened sheep.” The U.S. Bishops are currently in Baltimore at their much-anticipated fall annual meeting at which they were expected to vote on concrete proposals to hold bishops accountable for their failures after the reve

Pope Francis . . . “First, there is the immense and ongoing crisis of climate change and the nuclear menace”

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Consistory Hall Monday, 12 November 2018 [Multimedia]   Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to meet the full complement of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. I offer cordial welcome to the new Members and I am grateful to the former President, Professor Werner Arber for his gracious words of introduction, while I pray that Professor Joachim von…Continue Reading

Vatican orders U.S. bishops to halt plans for vote on sex-abuse reforms

BALTIMORE – The first gathering of the nation’s Catholic bishops since a summer wave of anger and recrimination over clergy sex abuse in the American church opened Monday with a stunning announcement: The prelates would not vote on a series of new accountability measures – and it was the Vatican who ordered them to hold off.

Our Veterans Fought and Died For Our Freedom, Not for Abortion

(Reprinted from 2013) In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, thirty men from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, huddled close together in landing craft churning through the dark waters of the English Channel on a mission unlike any other the world had ever known. Their destination: a strip of sand known as Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Most of the thoughts running through the minds of these young men are lost to…Continue Reading

US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development continues to fund pro-abortion, pro-LGBT groups

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Grants from the U.S. Bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm are again benefitting groups associated with support for abortion and open homosexuality, new reports from the Lepanto Institute say. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) encourages Catholics to support its Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which it says helps those on the margins. Yet in the last several years, roughly half a million dollars, much of which…Continue Reading


Conflicting Rights In A Divided Nation

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON The Senate Judiciary hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the Supreme Court were brutal to his personal reputation, devastating to the comity of the congressional body, and inflammatory in an already divided nation. Protesters shouted in the hearing room, had sit-ins in the hall, accosted a senator…Continue Reading

The Paradox Of The Person

By DONALD DeMARCO The first law of nature is self-preservation. The highest law of morality is self-sacrifice. What the content these two sentences makes abundantly clear is that the life of the human being is one of perpetual tension. Self-preservation and self-sacrifice are not exactly on the same page. However, it is important to note…Continue Reading

Mass Migration: Mortal Threat To Red State America

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that his natural political instincts are superior to those of any other current figure. As campaign 2018 entered its final week, Trump seized upon and elevated the single issue that most energizes his populist base and most convulses our media elite. Warning of…Continue Reading

Shawnee State . . . Professors Must Speak Contrary To Their Beliefs Or Be Punished

CINCINNATI — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Shawnee State University officials Monday, November 5 on behalf of a professor that the university punished because he declined a male student’s demand to be referred to as a woman, with feminine titles and pronouns (“Miss,” “she,” etc.). Although philosophy professor Dr. Nicholas Meriwether…Continue Reading

Trump Administration… Announces New Conscience Exemptions For HHS Mandate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor released two updated rules concerning conscience protections for organizations and individuals in relation to the HHS contraception mandate. Under the new rules, organizations and individuals objecting to the controversial mandate’s provisions on either religious or moral grounds will be exempt. According…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Indifference

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog, which appeared there on November 5, 2018. All rights reserved.) + + + The Gospel for Tuesday of the 31st Week features the Lucan version of the parable about…Continue Reading

Shine Brightly Like The Stars

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Daniel 12:1-3 Heb. 10:11-14, 18 Mark 13:24-32 In the Gospel reading today our Lord teaches us about what will happen at the end of the world: The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Life Is Beautiful With Final Judgment In View

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The prospect of final judgment brings negative impressions, images, or emotions to mind for many. Sometimes it also does so for some who claim our Catholic faith. As a step along the way to spiritual maturity, we must often be purged of our childish or worldly impressions. With an authentic and deeper faith, the prospect…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Holy Orders… More On Women Priests — Why Not?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 4 The participation of women in the life of the Catholic Church over the centuries has been remarkable. Without being priests, women have played a major role in the instruction of the faithful, service of the sick and needy, and the works of the apostolate. The work of spreading the Gospel, as early as in…Continue Reading

Humility — Foundation Of The Spiritual Life

By DON FIER As has been demonstrated over the past two weeks, temperance is the cardinal virtue that “moderates the attraction of pleasures, assures the mastery of the will over instincts, and provides balance in the use of created goods” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 383). Although most often associated with man’s innate appetitive drives to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Elizabeth Of The Trinity

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a woman receives the Carmelite habit, she also receives a new name. St. Teresa of Avila received the name “of Jesus” and St. Therese of Lisieux received the name “of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” Likewise, when Elizabeth Catez became a Carmelite and received her name, she was given the title “of the Trinity,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Alexandria

By CAROLE BRESLIN The list of saints is long, and includes both men and women from all walks of life and from all disciplines. For some saints, there is a plenitude of documents and accounts of their lives from which we can draw much information. For most of the saints from the early centuries of the Church, however, there is…Continue Reading